Volcano ash impact minimal in UK says Adlam

Nursery consultant John Adlam has responded to growers' queries on the Icelandic volcano's impact on their crops.

Adlam said: "It would seem that they heavy particles tend to drop from the sky nearer to the volcano and that we in the UK are most likely to experience only small and low levels of ash fallout.  
 
"There are records of the chemical contents of the ash from many of the world's volcanoes of the past 30 years and they all show a very wide range of elements present within them.  Many of these elements are soluble and could leach into the soil or growing media but at the levels we are likely to experience they are unlikely to be of concern to growers.  

"We are unlikely to see any phototoxic responses by plants to the deposition of the ash on the foliage or into the growing media. Likewise there is unlikely to be any alteration of the soil pH or nutrient levels and the ash being removed should not be a chemical hazard to staff cleaning the plants.   
 
"Where heavy deposits have been experienced it has proved difficult to wash the ash off crops and foliage as it seems to form a cement like product and sticks to the crop surface. There are examples round the world of fruit crops being unsaleable as it proved too expensive to remove all the traces but we are however unlikely to see that situation in the UK. We may see a light dusting of ash on the foliage of ornamentals which would be more obvious on crops like rhododendrons, Mahonia, laurels and ivies but it should not be too difficult to wash off or remove. Is guess it will be less than we see in a dry period blow off the roadways onto nearby crops or splash up during wet periods.

Adlam suggests "For crops that are critical you could always throw white fleece over them whilst the ash is present as a covering and then remove it later.  Whilst we have night time ground frosts that is not a bad idea in any case.   
 
"The cleaning of glass and polythene tunnel covers to restore light levels is something we may need to consider. At this stage we need to review that on a regular basis and make a decision later in the season as time progresses."


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